Irish retail sales rose at their fastest rate in eight years before Christmas as struggling stores waged a cut-price shopping war.

Shopping soared by over 9 per cent, as bargain-hunters flocked to city centres and malls to pick up gifts, partywear and tasty treats.

The latest data also gave a glimpse of the festive shopping spree, revealing the value of shopping done lagged behind the amount of sales. This means retailers were slashing prices to win customers.

The figures, for the year to end the end of last November, showed a 5.6 per cent rise in value of sales, compared with 9.3 per cent increase in volume.

Electrical goods enjoyed the most dramatic boost in turnover in the year, with an increase of over 22 per cent.

Department stores were also big winners with a 14pc increase in sales. Furniture and lighting sales rose by 18pc.

ISME, which represents small to medium sized businesses, welcomed the growth in sales.

However, it warned that retail jobs are in danger because wages are rising.

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